In April, Amazon fired Chris Smalls, an assistant manager at one of Amazon’s New York City warehouses. Smalls had helped organize a walkout to protest how the company was cleaning its facilities and treating warehouse workers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Smalls said at the time that he was fired in retaliation for organizing the protest; Amazon denied this.
Soon after, Vice published a leaked memo from Amazon’s public relations team in which executives laid out a plan to discredit Smalls.
“He’s not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position,” David Zapolsky, Amazon’s general counsel, wrote in an email, adding that Amazon should “make him the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was reportedly in the meeting about the situation, along with Dave Clark, Amazon’s head of worldwide operations and customer service, and Beth Galetti, head of human resources. According to Vice, Zapolsky’s notes said there was “general agreement” on the strategy.